You’ve worked hard to make sure that all of your bases are covered; that everything
is planned perfectly for your special day. You’ve selected a gorgeous gown, the most
beautiful and vibrant flowers and a location that takes your breath away. Not to
mention that all of your relatives and friends, from near and far, will be there
to help you both celebrate. When it’s all over you will have the most incredible
memories to last a lifetime. But memories fade, and while you can right now describe
the color of your bridesmaid dresses to the nth degree, isn’t a picture worth a thousand
words for someone who couldn’t be there?
Your photographs from your wedding day will be what live on generation after generation.
They will hang on your wall or be placed beautifully framed on your end table for years to
come. They will be what everyone wants to see as soon as they arrive so they too can order
their favorites. They will be the memory of being reunited with an old friend you haven’t
seen in years. They will be the one thing that will remind you of the love and laughter
that filled your wedding day.
Everyone has a budget and a bottom line on what they can afford to spend on their wedding.
There are areas where you can save a few dollars and it won’t be noticed, but your photographer
is not one of them. You want a professional who has much experience in shooting weddings;
who’s expertise and knowledge will be well worth the cost in the end when you are mesmerized
by your proofs and saying, “I don’t even remember that happening!”. Most couples will tell
you that the day passes by so quickly that it’s impossible to take in all of those special
moments. So after the honeymoon is over and you’re back to the daily grind, all of those
incredible memories and emotions will come rushing back as you gaze at your wedding day pictures.
So how do you find the perfect photographer who will capture all of those moments?
Well, the most basic, but biggest piece of advice is to interview several in your area. Ask friends and family
members (particularly any who have gotten married recently) if they have had any experiences – both
good and bad – with photographers so you will know who to contact and who to stay away from. Then
start interviewing them – a minimum of two or three for comparison sake. This is the most important
job of the day so ask the toughest questions. And while you’re asking the questions, take it all in:
are they easy to talk to?; do your personalities click and not clash?; are you comfortable in their
presence?; would you be able to confide in them about delicate situations (i.e., divorced parents,
issues among guests, etc.)?. These are all important factors to consider when hiring a photographer.
If you don’t find anyone with whom you are extremely comfortable the first time around, then keep on
looking, set up more appointments and interview more photographers.
So what kind of questions should you be asking? Consider some of these to help you with the
Meet the right person. Some photography studios have multiple people working for them.
Say you set up the appointment and meet with the owner of the studio. You really bond
with this person and feel that he or she is the perfect person for the job. Then comes
your wedding day and in walks a complete stranger holding a camera. Come to find out
the owner is only involved in sales and marketing these days and his or her assistants
are the actual photographers for the events. This is more common than you think. So
right from the start make sure the person you are interviewing is the person who will
be actually photographing your wedding.
Dress Code. Pretty basic, I know, however if you don’t ask the question of what your
photographer will be wearing at your wedding, you may be leaving it up to chance.
And while jeans and sneakers are fine at the office, they may not fit into your vision
of your wedding!
What’s their style? Most good photographers will do a combination of formal, posed shots
and photojournalism – meaning casual pictures taken while people don’t even know they are
being photographed. The reason I suggest to find a photographer who does both is that
you probably will want the posed pictures – with each of your attendants, your parents,
just the two of you, etc. These usually take place immediately following the wedding
ceremony and before the reception when your guests are enjoying the cocktail hour.
It’s best to take them earlier in the day around this time so that you can relax and enjoy
your reception. The last thing you want is a photographer stopping you in the middle of
your first dance as husband and wife to position you for a picture. Photojournalists are
able to capture those moments without interfering.
Black and white or color? This is often a big debate when deciding on your photography
package. Both have their pluses so why not use a photographer who is capable of both?
Color is important to capture those brilliant hues of your flowers, linens and attendants’
dresses, but black and white is amazing at emphasizing emotions. It is nice to find a
photographer who works side-by-side with an assistant who also shoots photos that day.
Two cameras are better than one, right? And most photographers will offer a second camera
for an additional cost if it fits into your budget. This, however, is not always possible
and you should not dismiss a great photographer with a solid reputation because he or she
works solo. So how do you choose when to use black and white versus color? Save the black
and white for when you are getting ready and during those more intimate moments – this is
when emotions are the strongest. Also, black and white film is more likely not to need a
flash which when emotions (whether happiness or anxiety) are on overload, no one wants to be
blinded at that moment by a big flash!
Film or digital? With today’s technology, more and more photographers are moving away from
film and towards digital pictures. In reality, it comes down to personal choice. Both have
the capability of providing you with fantastic pictures when placed in the right hands. One
thing to inquire about is getting either the negatives (for film) or a CD-Rom (for digital) of
all images written into your contract. Some photographers will already include that in their
packages; some will charge extra; and some will refuse to release them until after a period of
one to five years after your wedding (to “entice” you to purchase your album from them). If you
pick one of their bigger packages, the majority of the time an album will be included, however,
you still should try to get those negatives to be able to reproduce your pictures at will for a
less expensive cost. Another tip… when taking your film to be developed, choose one black and white
picture and one color picture. Have the exact same photos developed at different labs. The
difference can be amazing and sometimes you wonder if they really are the same picture. And
often the lab that does the best job on your color pictures may not be the best for black
Counting pictures. This is a concept that I have just never understood - photographers who tell
you exactly how many pictures they will take of your wedding. Every wedding is unique, right?
So how can you dictate that the same number of photos will be appropriate for all of them? Say
you order a package that includes 300 pictures which sounds like a lot. Then what if something
totally unexpected, but completely incredible happens towards the end of your reception (you never
know, Rob Thomas could show up and serenade you!), but your photographer doesn’t capture it because
he only has five pictures left and those are for your departure. Doesn’t make sense, right? Best
bet is to find a photographer who is willing to take an unlimited number of pictures. That way you
don’t have to worry about him or her leaving before you cut the cake!
Special effects. Want some unique and fun looking photos? Most photographers have great equipment
like a fish eye lens or infrared film that can really add some pizzazz! Of course, you won’t want
all of your pictures like this, but a few shots here and there will really create some excitement!
Show me the proof. Now is not the time to be shy! Ask to see their portfolio of pictures that
they have taken in the past. You will get a better sense of their style from these, and whether
or not it matches your vision.
References. Once you have found the right photographer ask him or her to provide two or three
references consisting of former clients. Any photographer who is reluctant to do so should be
crossed off your list.
Get it in writing! If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist. By signing a contract
you and the photographer are legally bound to fulfill your end of the deal.
Be sure to include everything! If you want the negatives – put it in there.
Spell out the exact time he or she should arrive and where and the time that the contract
expires which is when they are permitted to leave. This will help to avoid overtime charges
which are usually twice as high as the original. Also, make sure the date as to when you
can expect your proofs and/or albums to be ready is written in the contract. And lastly,
your payment schedule should be clearly spelt out so that you know when things are due.
This also allows you to budget up front for the particular package you’d like.
After you have found the perfect photographer, go ahead and book him or her without delay.
The best photographers book early so don’t miss out by sitting on your decision. But remember
to trust your gut instinct. If anything about your potential photographer rubs you the wrong way,
just keep on looking.